What Does My Weekly Dressing Change Look Like?

Hello again! As promised last week, I’ll be sharing photos documenting my dressing change process today!

To those not on therapy, what does this mean? It’s essentially clean up day. It’s taking the sticker part of my central line off, cleaning it, and re-dressing it (putting the sticker part back on!)

For those on therapy, my process is not the “norm,” but then, what is? Lots of us who have had central lines for many years become allergic to soaps, dressings, adhesives, and all kinds of things over time. Therefore, my dressing change might look completely different from yours! But guess what, we are all different and that’s what makes life fun 🙂

Understand that I say these things because it is terrifying to share these types of processes to the world because people attack things they do not know or think you do wrong. Maybe it looks like I’ve put my sterile gloves on wrong, laid something here wrong, but I promise I have a strong education. If you’d like to have a conversation about something, I absolutely welcome that. But please use kindness. I always say these things to protect myself, but I love sharing so that people can get a look into what this life looks like.

Of course, this is not me saying this is the one and only right way! This is just the way that has worked for me over the past 8 or so years. Never change your process without speaking with your infusion nurse or doctor who gives you instruction!

Anyway, let’s hop to it!

First and foremost, I put on some great music so that I can be entertained during the whole process. Once those sterile gloves go on, it better be a solid music selection on!

Then I wash my hands super duper well and dry them off with a clean towel or paper towel! This is what it looks like right before I start a dressing change (ha! I look so thrilled.)dressing change and tpn start03962webI open up my dressing change kit, put my mask on, then lay all of my supplies out all nice so that they are accessible and remain sterile for the change. ( I do not keep my sterile field sterile, I drop my sterile outside items into my dressing change kit tray. You will see my flush syringes on my sterile field, don’t freak out! I know they are not sterile, promise.)dressing change and tpn start03970webdressing change and tpn start03973webdressing change and tpn start03978webdressing change and tpn start03982webThe supplies I use include:

  • A dressing change kit with Betadine swabs (I am allergic to Chlorhexidine)
  • Two sterile 2×2 gauze pads
  • A Cavilon Swabstick
  • A Silverlon Disk (comparable to a Biopatch, but does not contain Chlorhexidine)
  • A Mepore Film dressing
  • An end cap (goes on the end of the central line and must be changed weekly and after blood draws based on the protocol I use)
  • 2 saline flushes
  • 1 heparin flush
  • A Swabcap to finish it all up!

After I’ve got it laid out, I quirt the contents of one saline syringe onto the two gauze pads.dressing change and tpn start03984web

Then prep my new end cap with the other saline flush.dressing change and tpn start03991web

Then I use some tape (that I’m highly allergic to if I leave on!) to tape my line to my chest because I’m freaked out by gravity.dressing change and tpn start03975web

I then pull the week old dressing off, including the little black circle part. That is called a Silverlon patch. Then it looks like this. Just a lil white silicone tube guy hanging out of my chest. The little stringy thing you see is a stitch that I had in at the time to help it adhere to my body.dressing change and tpn start03999web

Then on go the sterile gloves.dressing change and tpn start04001webdressing change and tpn start04002webdressing change and tpn start04007web

Then on to swabbing with the Betadine swabs! There are three, and I go from the inside, out. To keep the clean inside and the dirty out. dressing change and tpn start04013webdressing change and tpn start04016webdressing change and tpn start04022webThen I let it sit on my skin for 2-3 minutes so that it can do it’s scrubbing bubble work! And cross my fingers there’s a really great song on at this time while I cannot touch anything and just have to stand there for those minutes!dressing change and tpn start04030webNext, since I’m allergic to Betadine when it stays on my skin long term, I use those saline soaked gauze pads to carefully wipe it off. In the same inward to outward motion. dressing change and tpn start04040webOnce it’s all nice and cleaned up, I put a skin protectant product called Cavilon around the border of where my dressing will sit. Thankfully I am not allergic to this product! dressing change and tpn start04058webAfter the Cavilon dries, I put on the Silverlon patch! I do not wrap this disk around the line like some folks do. The stress of getting that next dressing off while trying not to pull my line out with that situation is terrifying. And they are effective sitting atop the insertion site.dressing change and tpn start04060webThen I place my dressing. (Yes, I do have my gloves off, but as long as I do not touch the back of the dressing that will be touching my site, the dressing remains sterile, so don’t fret!)dressing change and tpn start04068web

Then I take the boarder off and voila! dressing change and tpn start04074webdressing change and tpn start04079webThen it’s end cap change time! First I scrub around the part that screws onto the end of my line super well.dressing change and tpn start04085webThen I grab the primed new end cap and have it ready to go (this is my least favorite process as there are so many potential error points of touching this of that or the other.)dressing change and tpn start04089webOff with the old cap, and on with the new!dressing change and tpn start04090webWhew! It’s on! dressing change and tpn start04092webFlush with saline, flush with heparin, then twist on a nice little Swabcap, and I’m done till the next week!tpn start and trash03887webA new (and not pictured) step of this process is now using a 3M Silicone tape to reinforce the dressing. I had a new line placed in November of 2018 (very near the original site spot) but for some reason, my skin started wanting to repel the dressing at the exit site. So that’s new, but I don’t have photos of it currently! I will share at a later date. It’s a very nice way to tape your dressing to stay on.

And that’s the end of that process! In all honesty, it’s one of my least favorite parts of my week. I really really hate dressing change day. But you know what, it doesn’t take nearly as long as I feel like it takes in my mind. And I remind myself of that each week. It also makes me itchy for a day or so, just due to the new dressing and use of soap and whatnot. But it’s all worth it to keep my lifeline squeaky clean and happy!

Thanks for following along! Would love to hear from you all with any questions!

2 thoughts on “What Does My Weekly Dressing Change Look Like?

  1. What a great post, Miss Pretty! I’m glad u reminded anyone commenters to be kind. It wouldn’t have occurred to me that you’d need to say such a thing, but boy can people be harsh when acting mostly anonymously. (Grrrr. Let me at ‘em. All 85.5 lbs of me!!) 😉

    I’ve got an implanted chest port. That may be worth keeping in minds. Now to my questions. I’m going to start with what is clearly the most crucial of all:
    1) What music is your favorite to listen to these days? What do you consider the best to accompany Dressing Change Day?
    As for me, while I’m a huge music fan, I only occasionally listen to music during these chores. I’ve taken to podcasts. I find that, esp the serialized ones, actually help me look forward to doing the dressing change. It’s otherwise quiet with no interruptions and I can check in on what happened in, say, a missing person cold case. My newest fave is Ear Hustle. Men from San Quentin Prison, near my home in SF, talking honestly about prison life. So very humanizing. Ah, anyhow, I digress!

    2) Where in your home do you undertake this process?
    How do you approach it when you’re traveling?
    Can you describe your “tray?”
    I don’t have one of those. I just clean the dining room table very well & do my work there.

    3) I have to change my needle and dressing after 7 days. I do it in the evening along with hooking up my TPN. I run TPN 6 nights/week. I don’t necessarily have the impression that you hooked up to your TPN right away post-dressing change. Is that true? If so, any particular reason for that?

    4) Last but not least, you seem to use 2 sets of gloves. One is def sterile, the cream-colored initial pair. The other you use after you’ve got the dressing on and they’re purple. I assume these aren’t sterile, but is that right? What is the theory here? I just keep my hands clean & use a lot of alcohol prep pads, but I’m wondering if your way would be safer.

    Ok, so now that’s a lot. Thx so much for sharing. I’ve been through a lot lately, so hibernating. But it’s so lovely to see you’re looking great & still going strong with this blog.

    P.S. How’s the dog-baby? 🐶 Some pix soon? Hoping she gives you all kinds of love & support.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Fran! I am so sorry to hear you’ve had it rough here lately 😞 I know you’re a tough gal and will kick through it!

      Fortunately, people who comment have always been kind. I just get really afraid sharing these intimate things of my life because everyone is taught so differently. And of course we all make mistakes. I just always like to be upfront about that because I will not allow hate here I guess 🤷🏻‍♀️
      I remember a person did a photo project in high school, and when she presented, there was a photo of her refrigerator. It didn’t occur to me that anyone could be ugly about that. But I remember my art teacher reminding us to be respectful when that photo came up. Intimate things in our homes that most no one else see can be so hard to display to a bunch of people (and people who I don’t even know!)

      1. Music! It changes all the time. I cannot get enough of Panic! At the Disco’s newest album (I’ve never been a fan, but now here we are!) or The Greatest Showman soundtrack (also late to this party, but better late than never!)
      Anthony is very much a podcast listener. I just cannot get into them. I love singing along and having something to tap my toe to. I’ve got music on constantly.

      2. This happens at the end of my bed on a clean towel when I am at home. I have a full length mirror and trash can in that area, and that’s just where I have always gone for it.
      When I’m traveling, I try as hard as I can to not have to do a dressing change there. I always change my dressing the day before leaving to help my chances. But when it doesn’t work, I try to find a great big bathroom counter with good lighting and a mirror to do it on 🤷🏻‍♀️
      The tray I’m talking about is just the dressing change kit. And the only thing I drop into it is the Silverlon patch because it doesn’t have a safe home on the non-sterile-sterile field (ha!)
      Everything else I leave on its packaging to remain sterile.

      3. Sometimes I do, and sometimes I do not. It just depends on what works for my schedule that day! If I decide I’m going to shower in the morning of dressing change day, I’ll do it after that. If it’s an afternoon or evening shower kind of day, I’ll do it then. If at night time, I will connect to TPN right after. Actually, in this instance I did connect directly to TPN (those photos were posted last week 😉) Only reason for yes or no is simply how my day decides to flow that day.

      4. Haha yes. I don’t know why I put those dang purple gloves on. They’ve brought up lots of questions. I generally do not have gloves on for that part of the process. I do the same thing that you do, clean hands and not touching anything and alcohol always. Non-sterile gloves (in my opinion and lots of others) are not better than clean hands. So I would not suggest it. I feel like I might have thought (at the time these were taken last September) that the gloves would make people happier because I assumed people used them for this part of the process. Which sounds silly to say but 🤷🏻‍♀️

      So glad you’re getting your much needed rest. Breaks my heart you’ve been going through tough stuff lately 😞

      Elway is doing great! He gets posted pretty often on Instagram where I spend most of my Internet time! How’s your dog baby girl?!

      Thanks for your awesome questions, Fran! 💜


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